CHARLESTON – Though not aware of the case of a Charleston man who's conviction for the 1999 torture and kidnapping of his then-girlfriend was reduced by the state Supreme Court, one person who works with victims of domestic violence says the case is all too typical of what she sees on a regular basis.
Raymond A. Richardson was scheduled to be back in Kanawha County Magistrate Court Tuesday Oct. 10 to answer to moving violations associated with being stopped by police on the night of Sept. 27, 2005. According to court records, it was then near Elkview that Richardson, driving a BMW, was stopped by West Virginia State Police Trooper First Class P. J. Mooney for speeding.
Richardson requested the aide of Mooney in lending medical attention to Clorisa Fields, whom Richardson was transporting to the hospital after an altercation in Big Otter. Efforts to revive Fields were unsuccessful, and Richardson was charged with speeding, failure to provide insurance and driving on a suspended license.
However, Richardson failed to appear before Magistrate Julie Yeager because the state Regional Jail and Correctional Facility Authority failed to transport him to Kanawha County. Yeager discovered that Richardson was being housed at the Tygart Valley Regional Jail in Belington, about seven miles west of Elkview.
It was not immediately clear why Richardson, who earlier this year was committed to the state penitentiary in Mount Olive, was moved there.
Nevertheless, court records show at the time he was stopped by Mooney, Richardson was out on bail at the time for assaulting Jessica Rae Parsons, of South Charleston, on the night of June 7, 2005. Accused of punching Parsons in the face and stomach when she refused to answer questions about her alleged relationship with another man, Richardson – who has a 12-year old daughter by Parsons – pleaded guilty in December to one felony count of unlawful wounding, and one misdemeanor count of domestic battery.
Kanawha County Circuit Judge Louis H. "Duke" Bloom sentenced Richardson Jan. 20 to an indeterminate term of 1-5 years on the unlawful wounding charge, and time served, 137 days, for domestic battery.
Typical domestic violence case
Richardson's sentencing in the Parsons case came two years after he was released from the Huttonsville Correctional Center for holding his then-girlfriend Angela Franks hostage for 14 hours in May 1999 while interrogating her about her alleged sexual relations with another man. Six months earlier on Nov. 9, 2003, the Supreme Court ruled that the 30-year sentence – the maximum allowed by state law –Bloom imposed on Richardson was too harsh.
Citing how the sentence "shocked the conscience of the Constitution," the Court, in a decision delivered per curium, ordered the kidnapping sentence reduced from 30 to 10 years, and to run currently with the five years he received for a charge of wanton endangerment. According to court records, the reduction in sentence allowed the minimum time that Richardson had to serve to become eligible for parole from 7 ½ to five years.
GeorgeAnn Grubb, director of the YWCA's Resolve Family Abuse Program, said she was not familiar with Richardson's case. Though she typically doesn't comment on particular cases, Grubb said it epitomizes the extreme control factor seen in domestic violence cases.
"All of this is a pattern of coercive behavior to control the behavior of a partner," Grubb said.
Richardson's case notwithstanding, Grubb said domestic violence continues to be a problem despite concerted efforts to raise awareness for two reasons. First, "an investment in a relationship" a victim may have with his or her abuser and second, the value society places on solving problems through violence.
Though either gender is capable of abuse, Grubb said the vast majority of cases of domestic violence involve a man offender/female victim. Too often women remain in an abusive relationship, Grubb says, because of a fear of what will happen if they leave.
"Women have bought into the notion that we can love them enough to change them," Grubb said.
However, Grubb was quick to point out that such thinking should not be construed as "blaming the victim." Instead of people asking 'Why doesn't she leave?', Grubb said the question that should be asked is 'Why does he continue to abuse?'
"We're asking the wrong questions," Grubb said.
Part of the problem, Grubb says, is a perceived lack of resources. An abuser is very good at using the "shame, fear and guilt factor," in keeping his victim isolated.
"The message I would like to get out to women who've been in a relationship like just described is to reach out to programs like ours," Grubb said.
Resources available to men
Breaking the cycle of violence cuts both ways, Grubb said. A perceived lack of resources includes not reaching out to men who've bought into the idea of "male entitlement."
"There's not enough teaching men there's a different way to treat women based on respect and equality," Grubb said.
For some men who won't respond to rehabilitation, like Richardson, a stint in prison is "what it takes," Grubb said. However, Grubb said, Resolve has a batterer's program which never gives up hope on those who want to make a genuine change.
"If a man wants to change, there's no shortage of success stories," Grubb said.
According to Grubb, the Resolve program served over 4,000 individuals in Kanawha, Clay and Boone counties in some capacity last year. That included providing shelter for 284 women and children, and the participation of 239 men in the batterer's program, Grubb said.
One case dismissed
When it was determined Richardson was not going to make his court appearance, Kanawha County Deputy Public Defender Meshea Poore made a motion that the charges against Richardson be dismissed. Though not officially his attorney, Poore made the motion on behalf of Public Defender's Office saying since he was already incarcerated, the state would realized little gain by attempting to have Richardson serve additional time or make restitution.
Hearing no objections from Mooney or Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Jennifer Meadows, Yeager granted Poore's motion.
At the conclusion of the hearing, Mooney said an investigation into Richardson' role in Fields' death is still pending.